Why are people living with albinism hunted? The misconstrued propaganda by witch doctors and social stigma

Albinism can be refered to as a group of genetic conditions marked by little or none of the pigment melanin in the skin, hair, and/or eyes. People with albinism may have vision problems. However, those with albinism are generally as healthy as the rest of the population.

A report was released on 1 April 2014 by the Dae es Salaam, Tanzania, office of the Canadian charity under the same sun. The document reviews 180 countries and lists 129 recent killings and 181 other attacks all within 23 African countries.

Poster confronting the prejudicial wave against albinos

Many African societies rely on traditional definitions and classifications of regarding albino people. In most cases, it leads to a demonize socialisation of Albinos.

MYTH

Misleading parts of African spirituality and ritualistic ideas about albinism have led to the lynching, maiming, and terror felt by people with albinism. But what are the ideas inspiring the hunting of Albinos? Albino hunting is largely inspired by African rituals or voodoo. Ideas conceived around for years, witch doctors have largely contributed to the killings, with promise of wealth, success, and power when albino hair or limbs are used in a potion as part of witchcraft practices. The desperation of customers or the notice of some in the public has led to “infanticide, mutilation, anarchy, kidnappings, and amputations, fuelled on a premise of supplying high valued body parts used as amulets, which are then sold in covert or hidden underground witch market. This has caused series of panic within the albino community. The crimes have been reported as crimes against human rights.

Their body parts may be sold for as much as US$75,000 on the black market for a set of arms, legs, ears and genitals from an individual living with albinos. There has been an extensive amount of albino murders in the past decade especially in Burundi and Tanzania wherein 2007, more than seventy documented killings took place and one hundred and fifty body parts of Albinos were reported to be chopped off.

Another common myth, though social, is that Albinos have low brain capacity and are unable to match their intelligence with normal people. This has defocused the urgent need for them equally access proper educational facilities. Even if they do, the tendency to face bullying and exclusion from peer groups is maximum.

They are often persecuted as devils or people who are a bad on or suffer from a curse. It is falsely believed that contact with them brings misfortune. Another bothering issue that imposes a risk on people living with albinism is the belief that “sexual intercourse with a woman or a girl with albinism can cure HIV/AIDS.” Furthermore, the ritual sacrifice of Albinos is also believed to “appease the god of the mountain” when a volcanic eruption seems imminent. The hunting goes right after their death when their tombs are desecrated.

Though Albino hunting is not a ravaging problem allover Africa, it is worthy to note that the problems faced by them are existential. And like white-on-black racist crimes, this is part of that piece. People living with albinism deserve a place in the African continent and contributions vital.

The main driving forces behind these centered crimes are ignorance, myth, and superstition.

Author: Delvid Stanley-Coker

Delvid Stanley-Coker is a dedicated writer for The African Dream. His passion and desire to publicize the appreciable department of Africa, and voicing out the prevalent ills of society has adequately contributed to the promulgation of stories of different sort. He finds pleasure in reading novels, listening to soothing songs, and play video games for leisure purposes.

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